Florida’s car insurance laws are designed to try to reduce lawsuits. In reality, they can make your legal picture more complicated and increase your need for an experienced car accident lawyer.
There could be multiple insurance companies involved in the picture, and it could take a significant amount of work before you can get full compensation for your car accident injuries. If you or a loved one have been in a car accident, reach out to the experienced attorneys at Stevenson Klotz Injury Lawyers. Our Pensacola car accident lawyers can help you file a lawsuit if your PIP benefits run out.
No-Fault Insurance Law in Florida Means You Go Through Your Insurance First
Florida is a no-fault state for car insurance. No matter what happened in the accident, your own insurance will cover your medical bills and lost wages up to the extent of your coverage. This system is known as Personal Injury Protection (PIP).
How much PIP coverage you have depends on the policy that you have purchased. In Florida, the state law is that you must have at least $10,000 in coverage. In today’s world, that is not a high amount of coverage.
You have the ability to purchase additional coverage as part of your policy. While it is prudent to have higher coverage, not every driver can afford it.
PIP Benefits Could Be Exhausted Quickly
Your PIP benefits could even be exhausted after a trip to the emergency room and a couple of tests. Even an MRI in a complex area of your body can cost up to $5,000. It is safe to say that your PIP benefits alone will not be enough to cover your damages after a serious car accident.
Between the time that you have missed from work, and high medical expenses, you may need to find another source to cover your damages.
You Need to Suffer a Serious Injury to File a Lawsuit Against the Other Driver
You have legal options when your PIP coverage is exhausted. In Florida, there is a threshold that you must reach to file a lawsuit against a driver who was at fault for your car accident.
Florida law requires that you have suffered a “serious injury” to be able to file a lawsuit.
A serious injury is a defined term under Florida law. The following would qualify as a serious injury:
- Significant permanent loss of a bodily function
- Permanent injury (to a reasonable degree of medical probability)
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement
The other driver’s insurance company may contest that you have actually suffered a serious injury. It would ultimately be up to a jury to decide whether you meet the criteria to file a lawsuit.
In addition to further coverage, there are other benefits to filing a lawsuit that include the ability to recover your non-economic damages (such as pain and suffering and emotional distress).
You would receive more money in financial compensation, although you may not always be able to take action against the other driver.
You Can Always File a Lawsuit for Medical Costs
Even if your injuries are not considered serious, you can still sue for medical costs that are above $10,000. The at-fault driver’s insurance would need to pay if you can prove that they were at fault.
However, if you did not suffer serious injuries, you would not be able to recover other damages.
Nonetheless, if you have been seriously injured, you would need all the help that you can get to meet your bills.
You Can Turn to MedPay Coverage if You Have It
You may also have another vehicle to pay for medical costs over and above your PIP coverage.
Florida’s insurance carriers offer MedPay coverage, which you can purchase with your policy.
Like PIP coverage, MedPay is also no-fault.
PIP only covers 80% of your medical expenses. MedPay can cover the other 20% as well as medical bills that exceed your existing coverage. MedPay is not mandatory, meaning that you need to have purchased the additional coverage before your car accident.
Filing a Lawsuit for the Other Driver’s Negligence
The same legal rules apply when you file a lawsuit against the responsible driver. You must prove that they were negligent for them to have a legal obligation to pay you. Negligence means that the driver did something that would be considered unreasonable under the circumstances.
You must meet your own burden of proof to qualify for compensation. You would meet this burden by gathering evidence that shows what happened in the car accident. There is a limited amount of time to assemble your case, and you cannot wait until you get better.
You Need an Attorney in a Car Accident Case
If you have suffered any type of car accident, you likely need the help of an attorney. It can be confusing to deal with your own insurance company before even having to try to get money from another one.
Your own insurance company is far from in your corner. They could try to minimize your payments for lost wages. Your insurance company could wrongfully claim that you have already exhausted your own PIP coverage.
Your lawyer may need to negotiate with the insurance company to get the highest possible compensation in your case. They may need to turn up the pressure on both insurance companies when they are involved in your case.
Contact a Pensacola Car Accident Lawyer Today
If you have been injured in a car accident, you cannot afford to sit back. Act to get the money that you deserve.
You may need to take the fight to the insurance company, and Stevenson Klotz Injury Lawyers are hard-hitting attorneys who are dedicated to protecting your legal right to full compensation. We are ready to go to work for you.
Call us today at 850-444-0000 or send us a message online to discuss your case. You owe us nothing unless you win. We will never ask you for money upfront, and we will not send you bills while your case is pending.